Sports field, police body cameras among projects vying for Trumbull ARPA funds

TRUMBULL – The installation of a synthetic sports field in Indian Ledge Park, the repair of a municipal swimming pool and the upgrade of body cameras for the police are among the projects vying for approximately $ 5 million in funds allocated to the city through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Trumbull City Council and Finance Council met for about three hours on September 1 to listen and ask questions about presentations from leaders of various city departments, all of whom talked about projects they wanted to see the money for. spent.

“We have before us a unique opportunity to support important community projects and programs with this funding that we would not normally be able to do,” first coach Vicki Tesoro said during an opening presentation to the city council. and the finance council.

Trumbull has received a total of approximately $10.5 million in ARPA funding from the federal government, which state, local and tribal governments are expected to use to support their response and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency. .

The city received the money in two allocations, in May 2021 and the second in May 2022. So far, just over $5 million in ARPA funds have been spent, with $5.4 million remaining. .

Tesoro said in his presentation that ARPA funds must be allocated to certain projects no later than December 31, 2024, and must be used by December 31, 2026.

City Council President Ashley Gaudiano reminded those gathered that the total cost of the projects proposed at the meeting far exceeded the amount of money available to the city, so not everything could be funded.

One of the biggest projects discussed was the installation of a multipurpose synthetic turf sports field at Indian Ledge Park. The project, estimated at about $2.2 million, is badly needed because the city’s natural fields are often at the mercy of weather conditions, said Dmitri Paris, superintendent of parks and recreation for Trumbull.

“In the spring, many (courts) users are unable to get games, due to wet weather or (other reasons),” he said, adding that “We have thousands of users in the town of Trumbull who would benefit from another synthetic pitch.

Paris also told the meeting that serious repairs were needed to the pool at Tashua Knolls and was asking about $850,000 to spend on the project.

Another major project discussed at the joint meeting was the Trumbull Police Department body camera upgrade, which Trumbull Police Chief Michael Lombardo said would cost around $100,000.

He said the cameras are required by law and many of the ones the department now has broke down, running out of batteries in the middle of a shift. Lombardo said the camera model used by the city is also expected to be phased out soon.

“I guess when that’s eliminated there will be a lot of difficulty getting repairs, parts – everything,” he said.

One thing that was not on the police department’s list was a way to increase its numbers, an issue the department struggled with. Finance Council member Paul Timpanelli asked why this had not been addressed.

“Is there nothing we can do with these funds to address this issue as critical funding?” he said.

Lombardo said he didn’t think ARPA funds could be directly used to hire more staff, which Tesoro confirmed. However, she said police staffing was also a concern for her.

“It’s not just a problem at Trumbull,” she said. “It’s a problem everywhere.”

She also said ARPA funding can be used to replace public sector revenue lost during the pandemic, and that this could be a possible way for the police department to address its recruitment and retention issues.

Thursday’s meeting was the first in a long series of discussions about how the money will be spent, and consisted mainly of department heads discussing their ideas and answering questions from council and board members. administration. There was no public comment. The public will be able to comment at the next meeting, scheduled for October 27.

Tesoro said in his presentation that the city plans to launch an online form that city residents and business owners can use to submit their own ideas for how the money should be used. The form would be available on the city’s website from September 15 to October 15.

Tesoro stressed that the list of potential ARPA projects presented at the joint meeting was preliminary and that formal recommendations would not be made until some time later.

“I hope we can make these decisions apolitically, working together to do what’s best for our city,” she said.

Denise W. Whigham